New signings to banish hangover

FRESH START: Jamie Godbold (front) and assistant Andy Reynolds (back left) with new signings, from left, Adam Mills, Alex Matongo (trialist), Dave Cowley, Jake Turner, Danny Potter (goalkeeping coach) and goalkeeper Paul Walker
FRESH START: Jamie Godbold (front) and assistant Andy Reynolds (back left) with new signings, from left, Adam Mills, Alex Matongo (trialist), Dave Cowley, Jake Turner, Danny Potter (goalkeeping coach) and goalkeeper Paul Walker

AFC Sudbury boss Jamie Godbold goes into the new season confident there will be ‘no hangover’ evident from last season’s relegation.

AFC Sudbury boss Jamie Godbold goes into the new season confident there will be ‘no hangover’ evident from last season’s relegation.

The Yellows head into Saturday’s home Bostik League (formerly known as Ryman) Division One North opener with Canvey Island (3pm) — ironically the team they last faced competitively — looking to put a run of nine games without a win behind them.

But with only five players who carry those relegation scars — in captain Sam Clarke, starlet Tyler French, Tevan Allen, Jack Newman and back-up goalkeeper Callum Robinson — remaining, the manager believes the demotion will not negatively impair their 2017/18 campaign.

“I am quite optimistic, to be honest. We have had a good pre-season,” he said, having only tasted defeat once in seven matches, at higher-league Leiston (2-0), and which concluded on Saturday with a 3-0 victory at Norwich City Under-18s (L’heureux Menga, Allen(2)).

“We obviously had a huge turnover of players which, at the time, was quite difficult to take. But we came through the other side and we got some good quality in the building.

“I do not think there will be a hangover from last season. Bar Sam Clarke, Jack Newman and Tevan Allen, we have a whole new squad that have been used to winning with other clubs; whether that be in our academy (quadruple at under-18 level), Brightlingsea Regent winning promotion, Maldon & Tiptree coming second (and getting in the play-offs). They will all bring a winning mentality.”

In total, 12 players left last season with key players Marcus Garnham, Rob Eagle (both Leiston), James Baker and Jack Wilkinson (both Harlow Town) and Craig Parker (King’s Lynn Town) all choosing to remain at Step Three level, following AFC dropping out.

But with eight new signings coming in, which include forwards Adam Mills and left-back Joe Claridge, who helped Tuesday’s opponents Maldon & Tiptree to the runners-up spot, ahead of losing in the play-offs, as well as Brightlingsea Regent-promotion winning midfielder Jake Turner and former fans’ favourite Dave Cowley from Thurrock, Godbold believes he has created an excitingly more dynamic squad.

But what is he looking for them to achieve? That is something he is, outwardly, at least, less sure of.

“That is a really difficult question to answer,” he said. “We want to win as many games as possible.

“It is a completely different side in terms of profile and personnel to the one who won this division two years ago, and with the teams coming into it, it seems the league is as good as it has been for many years.

“We will set out to win as many games as we can and see where it takes us.”

See Thursday’s Suffolk Free Press for more AFC Sudbury season build-up.